David Schaper

David Schaper is a NPR National Desk reporter based in Chicago.

In this role, he covers news in Chicago and around the Midwest. Additionally he reports on a broad range of important social, cultural, political, and business issues in the region.

The range of Schaper's reporting has included profiles of service members killed in Iraq, and members of a reserve unit returning home to Wisconsin. He produced reports on the important political issues in key Midwest battleground states, education issues related to "No Child Left Behind," the bankruptcy of United Airlines as well as other aviation and transportation issues, and the devastation left by tornadoes, storms, blizzards, and floods in the Midwest.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent nine years working as an award-winning reporter and editor for Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems, financial and otherwise, plaguing Chicago's public schools.

In 1996, Schaper was named assistant news editor, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing a staff of six. He continued general assignment reporting, covering breaking news, politics, transportation, housing, sports, and business.

When he left WBEZ, Schaper was the station's political reporter, editor, and a frequent fill-in news anchor and program host. Additionally, he served as a frequent guest panelist on public television's Chicago Tonight and Chicago Week in Review.

Since beginning his career at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM, Schaper worked in Chicago as a writer and editor for WBBM-AM and as a reporter and anchor for WXRT-FM. He worked at commercial stations WMAY-AM in Springfield, IL; and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, WI; and at public stations WSSU-FM (now WUIS) and WDCB-FM in in Illinois.

Schaper earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and an Master of Arts from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Under cloudy skies and through intermittent showers, 4-year-old Kamrin Ramirez holds in her little hands two cards, one addressed to Ms. Patterson, the other for Ms. Johnson, her two preschool teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.

"I write thank you so much," she says.

Life on the Mississippi River is a roller coaster of highs and lows: record high floodwaters one year, a drought and near-record low water levels the next. And those are just two of the many problems faced by river stakeholders like barge operators, farmers and conservation groups.

Those stakeholders met recently in Chicago to discuss the Mississippi's most pressing needs, any common ground, and how to speak with a unified voice in advocating for the nation's largest river system.

So far, that hasn't been easy.

Critical, Crumbling Lifeline

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In Boston and surrounding communities, things are getting back to normal after a frightening week. NPR's David Schaper found the mood of the city reflected by the people at yesterday's Red Sox game at Boston's iconic Fenway Park.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The police and security presence here at Fenway Park is certainly greater than it usually is, but these Bostonians don't seem to mind at all because nothing says things are getting back to normal more than Red Sox baseball and...

While many in Chicago immediately thought of the famous "Billy Goat curse," when a severed goat's head was delivered to Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts at Wrigley Field this week, I immediately wondered if it was a message from the "Rahm-father," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

After all, Ricketts is in the midst of intense negotiations with Emanuel's administration over renovating the iconic 99-year old ballpark, as I reported last week.

A major artery that feeds Chicago's downtown business district has been temporarily cut off as crews work around the clock this week to replace half of the 91-year-old Wells Street drawbridge.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama was in Chicago today, promoting what he calls ladders of opportunity to the middle class. It's the latest stop of his post-State of the Union tour, fleshing out the proposals from Tuesday night's speech. At a high school near his southside Chicago home, the president said reducing urban gun violence is essential to economic development.

Illinois' pension-fund shortfall is by far the largest in the nation, and the clock is ticking for the state's governor and lawmakers to tackle the problem before a new Legislature is sworn in next week. So far, their proposals have stoked frustration from state employees and retirees.

The surviving students of Sandy Hook Elementary will not be returning to their school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot to death on Dec. 14.

Instead, when classes resume after the holidays, they'll attend a school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Parents, teachers and administrators in both towns are working to make the new school as similar as possible to the one Sandy Hook students left behind.

At an oceanfront park in Long Branch, N.J., Tim Dillingham looks out over the beach in awe of how much the pounding waves and high waters of Hurricane Sandy have changed the Jersey shore.

Dillingham is the executive director of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation group. Before the storm, he says, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent years building up the beaches by pumping sand onto them.

But that shouldn't be a solution to restoring the shore, he says.

A month after Hurricane Sandy pounded the New Jersey Shore, Atlantic City is back in business. Even though most of the casinos and restaurants sustained very little damage in the storm, they're now suffering from a lack of visitors. But the city has launched an effort to change that.

As three young boys roll their skateboards down the "World Famous Atlantic City Boardwalk," it's proof that it is still here, fully in tact, and that rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated.

It's an old problem and an old code — "don't snitch." And it exists everywhere.

But in Chicago, where homicides and shootings are up significantly this year, that old code is leaving a rising number of violent crimes unsolved. Chicago Police Department statistics show arrests are being made in about 30 percent of shooting homicides, while close to 80 percent of nonfatal shootings are going unsolved.

When police can't find and arrest the perpetrators, they worry that the shooters will soon shoot again.

Witness Protection

Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin's sexual orientation was never really a factor in her victorious campaign against Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Advocates for gay rights see that as a watershed moment for the movement.

Baldwin won a seat many thought she couldn't, defeating one of the state's most successful politicians in the process. The celebration Tuesday night in Madison was euphoric.

The enthusiastic crowd was never louder than when Baldwin acknowledged making history.

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In Wisconsin, Democrats won big just five months after a stinging defeat in their effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker. President Obama won the state, even though Mitt Romney chose Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. Plus Wisconsin voters elected Democrat Tammy Baldwin to be the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.

From Madison, NPR's David Schaper reports.

One of the most bitter congressional races is in the suburbs of Chicago, where controversial freshman Republican Joe Walsh is fighting to keep a seat he was actually drawn out of.

The Tea Party favorite's bombastic rants frequently get him into trouble, even with members of his own party, and Walsh is facing a tough Democratic opponent in Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in combat.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. Last night's second presidential debate produced more friction and fireworks than the first, and that didn't seem to bother a group of voters in a state that knows a lot about political bickering, Wisconsin. NPR's David Schaper watched the debate with roughly a dozen Democrats and Republicans who have dedicated themselves to bridging their state's political divide.

On her 22nd birthday this summer, Sarah Wagner of suburban Wheaton, Ill., who describes herself as a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, opened an email to find an incredible surprise — a recorded message from her favorite Cubs player:

"Hey, Sarah! Kerry Wood here! Thanks for your message and I hope you're having a great summer!"

"When I heard for the first time, I instantly smiled," says Wagner. "I think my hands probably went over like my mouth, like, 'Oh my gosh, Kerry Wood is talking to me, even though he has no idea who I am!' "

Traditional baseball autographs are getting an upgrade thanks to a new startup. For around $50, fans can get an autographed digital picture, a handwritten note and a personalized audio message from major leaguers. The company has signed up about 130 players so far.

One of the most important seats in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate is in Wisconsin, where Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring. Early polls showed popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson might easily flip the seat to the GOP, but he's now trailing Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin. It's a race that's going down to the wire in this almost evenly divided state.

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OK. So, all those political ads are on the air. Last night, the candidates themselves were on the air. They did interviews on the same CBS program, "60 Minutes." NPR's David Schaper was watching.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: After a week in which his campaign was on the defensive, Romney told "60 Minutes" he remains confident.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "60 MINUTES")

MITT ROMNEY: I'm going to win this thing.

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This summer's drought is not helping the wildfire situation, and the drought is also deeply harming the nation's agricultural economy. Parched lands extend from California to Indiana, and from Texas to South Dakota, impacting everyone from farmers and ranchers to barge operators and commodity traders.

As NPR's David Schaper reports, some farmers are getting close to calling it quits.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Looking over his small, 100-acre farm near South Union, Kentucky, Rich Vernon doesn't like what he sees.

This summer's drought continues to wilt and bake crops from Ohio to the Great Plains and beyond. Under a baking, late-afternoon sun just outside of the tiny east-central Illinois town of Thawville, John Hildenbrand walks down his dusty, gravel driveway toward one of his corn fields.

"You can see on the outer edge, these are a lot better-looking ears on the outside rows. Of course, it's not near as hot as it is inside the field," he says.

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Now to a political mystery in Chicago. Constituents and colleagues are demanding to know more about the whereabouts and condition of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Junior. Jackson took a leave of absence a month ago, but his office has been vague about why. And that lack of information about Jackson is the talk of the town. From Chicago, NPR's David Schaper reports.

Whenever a car or truck turns off busy Channahon Road onto the long drive to the Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Ill., a handful of union workers on a picket line scream, "Scab! Scab!!"

As strikers try shaming the few workers and managers who cross the line, even a clearly marked sandwich delivery car gets shouted down.

Approximately 800 workers at this plant, which makes hydraulic systems for Caterpillar's heavy construction and mining equipment, are about to enter their third month on strike.

Negotiations Fail

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. It seems that every week, there's a new study out on political polarization in America. More and more, we talk to, vote with, and get our news from only those who think the way that we do. So, this week we sent reporters on a couple of polar expeditions to political gatherings on the left and the right. And in a moment, we'll hear from NPR's Scott Horsley at Netroots Nation in Rhode Island. First, now here's NPR's David Schaper at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker triumphantly returned to the Wisconsin Capitol Wednesday, fresh off of his decisive victory in Tuesday's bitter recall election.

The governor appears to be emerging from the tough recall fight stronger, and with his national profile rising.

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It's been more than a year since Wisconsin Democrats began talking about recalling the state's governor, Scott Walker. Next week they'll get their chance to do it. Last night, Walker and his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, traded barbs in their final debate before Tuesday's vote. Turnout is expected to be very high, as the recall is sharply dividing voters in Wisconsin, so much so, some have just stopped talking to each other. NPR's David Schaper has the latest from Milwaukee.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor who went after the Gambino crime family, al-Qaida and even the White House in court — not to mention several Illinois politicians — is leaving his job as U.S. attorney in Chicago.

The career prosecutor, known as "Eliot Ness with a Harvard degree," will leave a legacy as a tenacious corruption buster, though some criticize his style as overzealous.

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More than 50 world leaders come to Chicago this weekend for a summit meeting of NATO, the North Atlantic Alliance. They will discuss, among other things, how to end the war in Afghanistan. They will talk in a city where anti-war protestors famously clashed with police outside the 1968 Democratic convention. In 2012, anti-war activists are making preparations. NPR's David Schaper reports.

Three years ago, President Obama was rolling out an ambitious vision for high-speed rail in America. "Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 mph," the president said at the time.

Today, there are a few Amtrak trains going that fast, but for the most part, the president's plans for high-speed trains have slowed considerably.

Voters in Wisconsin Tuesday, chose the Democrat who will face Republican Governor Scott Walker in next month's gubernatorial recall election. The winning Democrat was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

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